Programming Ideas and Resources for the Exhibit

“Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience” Online Site Support Notebook

PROGRAMMING REQUIREMENTS: An opening reception for “Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience” and two humanities-oriented public programs related to exhibition themes are the minimum requirement for host libraries. The reception and one humanities program may be combined. Humanities programs may include, but are not limited to lectures, discussions, debates, film series with discussion led by scholars, music and dance presentations with historical content, and seminars.

Please send an invitation for all exhibition opening events to:
National Endowment for the Humanities
1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20506

Ideas for Program Topics and Formats

  • The role of sports in American culture: how are national cultural and social issues and problems reflected in sport? Focus the discussion to baseball.

  • The failure of Reconstruction and the ensuing segregation of African-Americans in American society and in sport.

  • Compare baseball with other sports vis-a-vis treatment of African-Americans.

  • Many young people in America don’t really know what Jim Crow laws were—have a program focusing on how Jim Crow laws affected day to day life.

  • The post-Civil War to 1900 era of baseball is fascinating because of the changing relationships between the races. Have a program focused on baseball in just this period of U.S. history.

  • Discuss how and why the Negro leagues were such a source of pride for the African-American community throughout the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries.

  • Jackie Robinson was a major figure in promoting civil rights for African Americans, in addition to his baseball career. Have a program focused on his “other life” as a prominent civil rights leader.

  • There are several fascinating biographies of Negro league players (see Bibliography in yellow tab section of this notebook). Hold a program series beginning with a general introduction to the Negro leagues, and then a few more programs focusing on one or two players.

  • If your area has a significant number of people from Mexico, Central and South America, present a program about Negro league players from those countries, and American Negro league players who went to those countries to play. Give the program in Spanish if possible.  external link .

  • Barnstorming is a fascinating subject in itself. Have a program about what barnstorming was, and draw upon your local history: did any barnstorming African-American or white teams play in your vicinity? Look in the archives of your city’s newspaper.

  • Record the reminiscences and comments of people from your city or town who remember the days of the Negro leagues. Add the oral histories to the library collection.

  • Listen to Negro league games on the radio. Unfortunately, no Negro league games were broadcast, but external link has researched some of the greatest games ever played and recreated them, batter for batter, to give audiences the chance to feel what Negro League baseball was all about. Pitch Black Baseball offers CDs priced from $10 and up, with sounds of some of the World's greatest Negro Leaguers making diving catches, stealing bases, blasting homers, throwing heat and making history.

  • Have a baseball card event focusing on cards featuring Negro league players. Many reproduction Negro league cards are available at this website: external link .

  • Sponsor a baseball game in your community using 19th century baseball rules, or the rules that would have been in effect when the Negro leagues were at their height in the 1920s-1940s. external link offers The Rules of the Game: A Compilation of the Rules of Baseball 1845–1900, which covers all of the year-by-year rule changes for all 19th century professional leagues until opening day 1900. Can be purchased and downloaded from site or received in book form. external link features a baseball rules chronology covering 1845–2008.

  • Are there any Negro league players, umpires, or managers in your community, or relatives of former Negro league figures. Invite them to present a program a the library about their experiences. Tape their stories for the library’s collection.

  • Libraries hosting other exhibitions have done an exhibit “teaser” event one to two months before the exhibit arrives to generate interest—events included lectures, films, and readings from writings of the subjects of the exhibit. If your time for the exhibit is in winter, you could do a 19th century rules baseball game in the summer or fall.

  • Sponsor a “One Book, One Community” program during the exhibit using a popular treatment of the story of the Negro leagues (one title for adults, one for young adults, one for children); or a reading and discussion series with two to three books about exhibit themes (see bibliographies in the yellow tab section of this notebook).

  • Find people in your community who have family stories, diaries, artifacts from the era of the Negro leagues. Create related exhibits or ask them to speak at a program.

  • Ask good public speakers or local media people to do dramatic readings from autobiographies of Negro league figures such as Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck O’Neil, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and others.

  • external link is a free fantasy baseball site in which players can field teams including the greatest players from the Negro Leagues, Hall of Famers, and past and current Major League Baseball stars.

  • Sponsor a four- or five-book discussion series while the exhibit is on display, using books from the lists in the resources section or others you think will be well received.